The Hahnville Tigers escaped with a 31-27 victory on Friday night after the John Ehret Patriots made a late charge.
|Hahnville running back Ahmad White rushed for 143 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead his team to a 31-27 win over John Ehret in the season opener.
After leading 24-14 at the half, the Tigers looked poised to dominate the rest of the game, but Ehret outscored them 13-7 in the second half to make it a nail-biting finish.
Head Coach Lou Valdin was very pleased with the improvement in penalties, but found some trouble areas with red-zone play and special teams.
"We definitely improved penalty-wise from last week at the jamboree," Valdin said. "But I was disappointed that we got in the red zone a couple of times and didn't score points and we need to improve on special teams."
Running back Ahmad White led the team in the victory with 143 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns. Quarterback Brian Ensminger performed well also, completing 13 of 22 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown pass, caught by wide receiver Derek Howard, turned out to be the score that sealed the game for the Tigers. Howard finished the game with nine catches for 126 yards.
Miscues affected both teams, but the Tigers won the turnover battle, capitalizing on two out of three turnovers with touchdowns. The linebackers were the stars of the takeaway game as Jake Noel recovered a fumble while Brody Bourg and Ben Taylor both recovered muffed punts. Valdin was impressed that the team didn't give up when Ehret was making a comeback.
"I was happy that we didn't lose our poise," he said. "This is a young bunch and I was very pleased that they kept at it and didn't allow Ehret to come back and beat us."
While the offense was strong through the first half and in the fourth quarter, the defense performed well also. The Purple Haze allowed only 13 points as two of Ehret's touchdowns were scored on a fumble recovery and a kickoff return.
"We played pretty well on defense," Valdin said. "I thought we were able to dominate the line of scrimmage like we wanted to."
This Friday, the Tigers take on the 0-1 Sarah Reed Olympians. Last season, the Tigers dominated the Olympians 56-0 for their second shutout victory of the season. The victory was won in the air and on the ground as Brian Ensminger threw five touchdown passes while three different running backs carried the ball into the end zone as well.
That is the kind of game Valdin is looking for again this year.
"Our quarterback had to scramble too much against Ehret," he said. "We would rather Brian throw the ball than run it. Our philosophy is that running quarterbacks get first downs, but throwing quarterbacks get touchdowns."
This season, Sarah Reed has a new coach and a new attitude after finishing 1-9 last year. Head coach Kerry Washington turned around Jeanerette and Scotlandville in his previous coaching stops. But he will have his work cut out for him in New Orleans as evidenced by the Olympians' 45-0 loss to Ascension this past Friday.
Reed returns six starters on defense from last season and will be linebacker driven in a 3-4 scheme. Meanwhile, Washington has changed the Olympians' offense from the veer option to a pro I slot formation.
"With the new coach, they're moving to more of a spread team rather than running the option," said Valdin. "But that style gets us better prepared for our district."
The coach said that the Tiger game plan is to knock the Olympians out before the fourth quarter.
"You don't let a team like that hang around, or they will come back on you," said Valdin.
But what he and the team are looking for most this week is improvement.
"I don't care who we play, it's how we play," he said. "Last week we played better than the jamboree. This week, we need to be better than last week. And we need to be peaking when we get on the bus for East Ascension for the start of district, because that's when you start playing for a championship."
The Tigers will host Sarah Reed this Friday at 7 p.m.